Losing the Long Weekend

Are you enjoying your long weekend so far? Me? Not so much.

Long weekends, for me, are a thing of the past. In the transition from employed to self-employed, I seem to have lost the long weekend.

When I worked at a regular 40-hour per week job, weekends were part of the framework of life. Every day had a role, and Saturday and Sunday were the golden days at the end of the Monday to Friday slog. Long weekends meant bonus days: twenty-four hours of “found” time on a Monday or Friday.

My transition from 9-to-5, M-F was mostly unplanned. A move across the province meant leaving one job, and I decided to take a few months off before finding another. Those few months led to a few months more, at which point I decided to do something else entirely.

Losing the structure of a workweek was initially unsettling. On one hand, it’s complete freedom, but on the other hand, it invited aimlessness. I needed some structure onto which I could frame up my schedule.

Saturday and Sunday once again became the weekend. Now I know which day to do household chores (Saturday) and which day I can indulge in guilt-free relaxing (Sunday.) The rest of the week is structured somewhat like a workweek. I even plot tasks in my computer’s calendar to keep me on track. Monday to Friday is for school work, writing, and income-producing activities. Just like in the old employed days, I look forward to the weekend?and slack off a bit on Friday afternoons. And just like the working drudge I used to be, I sometimes “take work home” on the weekends.

While I restored Saturday and Sunday to my schedule, what I didn’t do was factor in long weekends. I simply don’t have them. Those statutory holidays that the rest of the province and often most of the country enjoys, I don’t get. For me, they’re usually just another day of school work and work-work, marked only by the minor annoyance of no postal service.

Being the master of my own schedule I could, of course, just schedule in long weekends. There’s nothing to stop me from making every weekend a long weekend?and that is rather tempting.

But I enjoy my schedule, artificial though it may be. I like the rhythm of the workweek and the anticipation of the weekend. Heck, I even like the boss! The best part of being my own employer is that I can usually get whatever time off I need.

The trade-off to my lost long weekends is the ability to be spontaneous. I can take advantage of weather or whim to make the journey to visit family, make time for friends, or indulge in some fun. In the winter, I can ski or snowshoe when conditions are ideal, and in the summer I can walk when the sun is shining (which, in Ontario, usually means weekdays.)

While I’ve lost the long weekend, being self-employed has benefits that outweigh the occasional Monday or Friday bonus day. So go ahead, enjoy your long weekend. Don’t worry about me, working away. It’ll all even up down the road.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario

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